November 19th – Went past a place called Sheffield today. And we had to go through a U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint – they were looking for Mexican illegals, and they allegedly drop over the mountains into America.
November 20th - Went to the Alamo, in San Antonio, although the museum was more about the John Wayne film but very interesting nevertheless – another educational day.
And we had our first “we’ve been there” moment, when we watched Prince Caspian on TV, and the beginning showed Cathedral Cove (New Zealand).
November 22nd – Decided to have two evenings in Houston, to give us time to visit the Johnson Space Centre. It was full of Apollo, Gemini and Mercury modules, with the stories behind them and a lot about the International Space Station. And the tour also took you to the Historic Mission Control (a la Apollo 13) which they’ve kept as it was in its heyday. A brilliant day.
Bob and a rocket.
November 23rd – Out of Texas and into Louisiana. Scenery is all swamp-grass and bayou and the houses are all on stilts or built on earth-mounds. There are signs everywhere denoting Hurricane Evacuation Routes and everything is at sea-level. Also the electrics on Bob’s bike started to play up again.
November 24th – Stopped at New Orleans, and walked around the French Quarter. Beautiful buildings and a lovely relaxed feel to the place. And music and buskers happening everywhere. We felt the need to try jambalaya just for the hell of it.
Paddle steamer on the Mississippi.
Bourbon St, New Orleans
November 25th – Thanksgiving Day today – roads are busy with people going to visit family. We rode through Mississippi and Alabama and into Florida. Lots of soaring bridges over swampy wetlands.
November 26th – Went over Suwannee (or Swannee) River today. Bit of a surprise – my geography is coming on leaps and bounds during this trip.
November 28th – Celebrated my 50th (yes I know I don't look that old) birthday quietly with a bit of sunbathing, a dip in the hotel pool and a couple of bottles of wine. Only about 25 degrees here as opposed to the -2 you’ve got there back home. Very pleasant.
November 29th – Decided to go down the Florida Keys – there’s a 120-mile highway connecting all the islands from Key Largo down to Key West. We originally planned only to go to Key Largo (the first main island), but we got a good deal on a hotel, so went all the way to the end. Lots more soaring bridges – and hundreds of pelicans and storks. The weather has worsened further north with snow falling, and there have been reports of tornadoes and hurricanes at the end of their season in Louisiana.
The more worrying thing at the moment though are the signs warning “Panthers Crossing” and then “Crocodiles Crossing” – we’ve come across a few alligators in the rivers at the side of the road, but have watched from a safe distance.
November 30th – Passed Miami and Fort Lauderdale – the airport runway starts just at the side of the highway. Frightened the life out of me when I was passing a huge truck, and a 747 passed overhead at about 30 feet! The temperature is certainly getting colder the further north we go - only about 20 degrees today.
December 1st – Only a short hop today, to Titusville, close to Cape Canaveral. Colder again – fortunately we’re staying in motels that usually have the Weather Channel, so we’re keeping an eagle eye on the snow.
December 2nd – Spent all day at the Kennedy Space Center, with a tour to the enormous Vehicle Assembly Building, and as close to the launchpads as you can get.
(There was supposed to be a Shuttle launch tomorrow, but it’s been postponed as they’d found some problems.) Saw an amazing Imax 3-D film about the Hubble Telescope. Another fantastic day.
Explorer – seemed apt somehow.
December 4th – Had to scrape frost off the bike this morning. Decided we have to make a run for New York, and hope that we don’t get caught by the snow. So we blasted through Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina.
December 5th – Had to scrape ice off the bike this morning. Into Virginia eventually, and we went from 1.5 degrees up to a balmy 4 degrees. Haven’t been this cold since Mongolia!
December 6th – Another sight-seeing day, this time around Washington D.C. Walked down The Mall, seeing the Smithsonian Institute, the U.S. Capitol building, the White House, and loads of memorials including the Washington and Lincoln Memorials, Arlington Cemetery, the Kennedy Gravesites and the Iwo Jima Marine Forces Memorial. Tremendously impressive buildings and very powerful.
Washington Monument on the Mall.
Marine Forces monument (Iwo Jima).
December 7th – Couldn’t even raise 1 degree today. Never been so cold on the bike – we have to stop every hour just to thaw out and try and get some blood back into our digits. The wind-chill factor is increasing the pain factor. But we got through Baltimore, Philadelphia and into New York finally.
=== So we’ve done it - we’ve circumnavigated the world. ===
And I’ve felt every mile!
Whereas he's as fresh as a daisy.
December 8th – Contacted shipping company, sorted out the panniers and kit, and took the bikes to them ready for being air-freighted next week.
December 9th – A day sight-seeing – to Central Park, Rockefeller Plaza, Times Square, Grand Central Station, the Chrysler Building, the Empire State Building, Ground Zero (9/11 Memorial), and the Statue of Liberty. Freezing cold again. But what a lovely place Manhattan is – not as frantic as I expected. And I just love that NY accent.
Broadway and Fifth Avenue.
December 10th – A day off. Writing emails and sorting out blog-updates.
December 11th – Planned flight home into Manchester. Bikes due next week. The plan then is to arrange another adventure to various countries in Africa (the ones without civil wars, unrest, drought, deserts etc, if at all possible).
Back in March this all just seemed like a distant dream. But we’ve done it – and here’s some statistics.
Time away - 10 months / 40 weeks / 286 days
Countries - 21
Miles (on bike) - 23,500 approx.
Miles (not on bike) - 5,780 approx.
Cost of shipping (bikes) - 15,300 pounds sterling approx.
Route through Australia and New Zealand.
Route through USA.
== Watch this space in about 3 months. ==
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